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Democratic Congresswoman On Move To Impeach Trump Again

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

What a difference a week makes. Last week at this hour, we expected to be reporting on Congress certifying the electoral vote and confirming Joe Biden as the 26th president of the United States. Instead, we were reporting on a violent insurrection, which has led to this week, the U.S. Capitol looking like a fortress protected by law enforcement and thousands of National Guard and, for the first time, a U.S. president being impeached twice. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is one of the Democrats who voted today to impeach. She joins us now.

Congresswoman, welcome.

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Thank you very much for having me.

KELLY: May I start just by asking the mood there? What has it felt like in the chamber today?

SPANBERGER: It felt somber, sad and fatigued, I guess you could say. It is a very strange, strange mood here on Capitol Hill.

KELLY: Fatigued because of everything that came the last week, and I suppose because this is not the first time you all have been there and done this?

SPANBERGER: That's right. That's right.

KELLY: The outcome of this vote was not in doubt. But I want to skip straight and start looking at what happens next. Where do you put the odds of President Trump being acquitted in the Senate a second time?

SPANBERGER: Well, I think that the indications that we're seeing even of the vote here, you know, we had 10 principled Republicans choose to stand up for their oath to the Constitution and vote to impeach here in the House. And I think that is an indicator of the fact that there is a strong understanding, though limited in numbers, that, in fact, what he did was an egregious offense and what he did was an impeachable offense.

Where it goes in the Senate, you know, I think will leave me with just as many questions as perhaps you all. But I do think it's important to recognize that in this broader conversation, there is some bipartisan agreement. And even some members who opted not to impeach gave semi-conflicted statements where they said that his actions were impeachable, but they didn't like the way the articles were drafted.

KELLY: It's the numbers, though, as you said, 10 Republicans who voted to impeach, 197 who voted no.

SPANBERGER: That's right.

KELLY: Yeah.

SPANBERGER: You know, and frankly, that wasn't surprising because we saw more than 140 vote to try and actually undermine the validity and - of the elections with their efforts either in support of lawsuits or to actually try and discount the electoral votes sent to the United States Congress by Pennsylvania and Arizona. So there are already so many members whose allegiance and fidelity to this president has already caused them to take steps beyond those that I think would be reasonable to most people as it relates to honoring the oath of office that we have taken.

KELLY: Let's talk timing. In the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell says he's not going to bring anybody back early. They will not take this up until after the inauguration, which means a trial will fall on Biden's watch. Do you worry about hindering his ability to set his agenda and to move the country forward?

SPANBERGER: Well, so I worry about many things. I worry about the fact that when we see vice president - excuse me - President-elect Biden come in, we will have to immediately take action to repair and address the pandemic that has gone woefully addressed during the past year. We need to address the significant challenges facing our economy and unemployment levels. I mean, there is so much that needs to be happening, but that shouldn't preclude us from recognizing the importance of setting a standard, a firm line in the ground that this behavior - inciting an insurrection against the United States Congress, against the government of the United States - is an absolutely reprehensible, unacceptable act and should be for all time measured and viewed as such. And so the responsibility of this is so important.

KELLY: Congresswoman, thank you. We have to leave it there. Thank you so much.

SPANBERGER: Thank you. Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.